Martinis spilled over art museum

WHILE museum events are often wine-and-cheese affairs, art and the martini apparently just don’t mix.

The Milwaukee Art Museum is reviewing its policy of renting out space on weekends after the interior of its spectacularly winged Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was trashed by patrons of Martinifest, a semiformal event organized by Clear Channel Radio and held at the gallery last month.

The event offered unlimited martinis for $30 -- and according to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, guests did not know their limit.

“People threw up, passed out, were injured, got into altercations and climbed on sculptures,” writes Mary Louise Schumacher.


Schumacher noted that the group of four young men who climbed onto Gaston Lachaise’s “Standing Woman,” a bronze sculpture of a “goddess-like woman with exaggerated features,” groped her breasts while someone else documented the sculptural harassment with a camera phone. Food, drink and vomit were found on and near artworks by the end of the evening, and two artworks, both sculptures, had to be removed from the gallery so possible damage could be assessed.

The problem, according to Kerry Wolfe, a local programming director for Clear Channel, was not the martinis but the price: “Hindsight is 20-20.... It was probably too cheap,” the paper quotes Wolfe as saying.

-- Diane Haithman